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A&V apologises to media

News day / The company, which is at the centre of a fake oil scandal involving state owned oil company Petrotrin, has also invited journalists to a tour of its operations in Penal.

The invitation was contained in a media release yesterday issued by the law firm of Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, which is representing A & V Oil and Gas Limited in its legal battle with Petrotrin.

Petrotrin has since stopped payments to the company following an audit report which detailed alleged discrepancies.

The statement was signed by A & V Oil and Gas Limited chief executive officer, Hanif Baksh.

“The company has received legal advice from its attorneys and notwithstanding the strict legal rights which exist for the enjoyment of one’s property, the company tenders its apologies and accepts that it has an obligation in this matter to cooperate with the media to facilitate and provide to the media and to the public, information in respect of the allegations levelled against it,” the company stated.

The company noted that the allegations regarding the fake oil scandal involve the expenditure of public funds by a state owned company in which the public had a vested right to know the relevant facts and to make its assessment regarding said allegations.

The media tour has been carded for September 21 at the company’s Nazim Avenue, San Francique, Penal base.

A press conference is also expected to be held on September 23 where the company’s attorneys, together with an official with technical knowledge, will answer questions. The fake oil scandal was made public by UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar during an address at a meeting of the UNC on September 10.

The Prime Minister, speaking last week on the fake oil issue, publicly confirmed that Baksh is his friend. The PM also vowed that whether friend or not, PNM or not, anyone caught in corruption and fraud will have to account.

Reading from a copy of an internal audit report prepared by Petrotrin, Persad-Bissessar said the audit team had concluded that a lease operator at the Catskill field defrauded the company of almost $100 million by inflating its oil production figures.

Meanwhile, the TT Publishers & Broadcasters Association (TTPBA) said it has noted with great concern the pattern of treatment being meted out toward journalists. In a media release yesterday, the association stated, “We reaffirm that it is our responsibility to protect and preserve the right of citizens of Trinidad and Tobago to know.

“As such, we view an infringement against our practitioners as an infringement against freedom of speech and freedom of information.” The Association is calling on law enforcement to investigate “these matters” saying it “will continue to monitor these situations in defence of the free media.”

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